Infiniti has teamed up with double Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel to create a very special version of its FX SUV. We headed to Monaco to try it out
What is it?
It's an exclusive SUV produced to the specific specification of double Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel. Limited to just 150 units across the world – 50 of which will come to Western Europe – the Infiniti FX Vettel Edition promises exclusivity to buyers loaded enough to part with £100,000. Infiniti says the £46,000 premium over a standard FX can be justified by its exclusivity and the special hospitality buyers will receive.
What's under the bonnet?
A 5.0-litre V8 petrol lump that uses more fuel than Qatar. Probably. Buyers won't be too worried about that though – the throaty lump produces 414bhp and 520Nm of torque. There haven't been any tweaks under the bonnet, but a special exhaust system has helped improve performance. There's even a special button, hidden away by the ash tray, that makes it louder. It sounds sublime – like a burbling power boat – and it can crack 60mph in 5.6 seconds.
What's the kit like?
Plentiful. This is a top of the range FX and comes with all the toys luxury SUV buyers expect. There's sat nav, Bluetooth, a cracking sound system and leather. The only extra is the carbon fibre spoiler – apparently it's a £4,800 option because "some buyers didn't like it". Other Vettel extras (that you don't pay for) include carbon liberally applied to the front and rear splitters, inside and on the door mirrors. The 21-inch BBC alloys are also unique and there's tasteful purple stitching in the cabin. All that carbon was designed with the help of Vettel's Red Bull Racing employers so it's there to do a job, not just look pretty.
Well, it depends how you class it. There aren't many any other limited edition, F1 driver inspired SUVs around. But there are lots of luxury SUVs to choose from instead. Closest rivals probably come from the Overfinch Range Rover stable or perhaps the soon-to-be-launched Eterniti, the Brit built SUV which is based on a Porsche Cayenne. Bentley and Maserati will soon have some ostentatious offerings too.
Is it any good?
At first we weren't convinced, but during our time driving this massive car on the streets of Monaco it slowly won us over. It's certainly quick and offers up a decent ride quality – it's not as harsh over bumps as we thought it would be. The steering lacks feel though and we found the paddle-shift seven-speed gearbox a little slow to respond in some situations. But that soundtrack is certainly addictive – we didn't turn the stereo on once in the two days we had with the car.
The AOL Cars verdict
Infiniti likes to think its FX Vettel Edition will become a collectors' car. We're not so sure about that – it all depends on just how successful the young German driver goes on to be. This is really a machine aimed at rich buyers who need a practical car that they're unlikely to see an identical version of coming towards them on the King's Road. That £100k price tag does buy you exclusivity though, and if that's what you're looking for then maybe, just maybe, it's worth the cash. We did say maybe.
Model: Infiniti FX Vettel Edition
Price: £100,800 (as tested)
Engine: 5.0-litre, V8 petrol
Power: 414bhp, 520Nm
Max speed: 170mph
MPG (comb'd): 21.6